Unauthorised Absence

By December 13, 2009 November 18th, 2019 Absence

Despite there being a wide range of types of time off available to employees – from 28 days holiday per year to time off for dependants – employers are still regularly faced with situations where employees do not turn up for work when expected.A common question we are faced with is “has the employee effectively resigned by failing to attend work?”  The answer is most definitely “no”.  The employment relationship is a legally binding contract (whether you have a written contract in place or not) and one party cannot assume the other has ended that agreement – they either have or they haven”t.  So, if you haven”t heard anything from your employee, they definitely have not resigned and the employment relationship is ongoing.

Clearly, you can”t keep an AWOL employee on your books indefinitely, but it is now down to you to take action and bring the employment to an end fairly (and safely). For a step by step guide on resolving this issue see below:

A step by step guide to deal with AWOL employees

Step 1: Write to your employee expressing your concern about them, note that they have been absent since [date] and that you have not heard from them.  Ask them to make contact with you as a matter of urgency.

No reply or contact

Step 2: Write again reiterating your concern for them.  Point out that they have been absent since [date] and that you have had no reply to your letter of [date].  Tell them that their absence is currently unauthorised and that this may become a disciplinary issue if they do not make contact by [date] with an acceptable explanation for their absence.

No reply or contact

Step 3: Invite the employee to a disciplinary hearing to discuss their unauthorised absence from work since [date] and their continued failure to make contact with you.

No show and no contact

Step 4: You have a couple of options at this stage, a online casino dgfev cautious lawyer would advise you to repeat Step 3 above.  If you have lost patience and do not want to lengthen the process we would suggest that you write and invite the employee to a rescheduled disciplinary hearing but in this letter you tell them that in light of their previous non attendance and their failure to make contact with you, if they fail to attend the rescheduled hearing you will conduct the hearing and make a decision in their absence, based on the information available to you at that time.

No show or contact

Step 5: Chair the disciplinary hearing in the employee’s absence.  Consider the information available to you (very little) and make your decision (probably to dismiss for unauthorised absence).

Step 6: Write to the employee with your decision.  The date of dismissal will be the date that they are deemed to have received your letter, so maybe allow 2 days for postage.  In your letter, give the employee the right to appeal.

In practice, if you get to the disciplinary hearing stage and have still had no contact it is most unlikely that you will see or hear from the employee again.  Even so, it is not worth risking an unfair dismissal claim when a fair process is so easy to follow.

We did dismiss a dead person once….opps!  Needless to say, there was no appeal.

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